Carolyn Osiek's paper, Diakonos and prostatis: Women’s patronage in Early Christianity is well written and informative. I want to highlight one thing that she writes:
Stephanas particularly can be singled out for his social prominence, for he hosts Paul and the whole church, the members of which are expected, as good clients, to be submissive to him (1 Cor 16:15-16). ... At a later time, Gaius hosts the whole Corinthian church (Rm 16:23).
Osiek infers that Stephanas "hosts Paul and the whole church" and Rom 16:23 says exactly the same thing about Gaius. Acts 18:7, on the other hand, gives this role to Titius Justus. 1 Cor 16:15 describes Stephanas's household as the 'firstfruits of Achaia', meaning that Stephanas's conversion was Paul's first breakthrough in Corinth, and again Acts gives this honor to Titius Justus.
We seem to have three socially prominent people who fulfilled the same role in the Corinthian church, and this is all the more surprising when we remember that not many in the Corinthian church were socially prominent (1 Cor 1:26). What is going on? It is often pointed out the "Gaius" could have been the praenomen of Titius Justus, but what about "Stephanas"?
The name "Stephanas" means "crowned" or such like, and it was common for those who funded synagogue buildings to be crowned (metaphorically or physically). It is therefore very likely that "Stephanas" was a conversion name/agnomen that Paul gave to Gaius Titius Justus, who had made his house available for Paul to use as a (rival) synagogue.
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